Wakefit.co, a sleep solution company that has been in existence since 2016, went viral for a clever campaign it came up...
- Wakefit launched in 2016 and was built on the tenets of innovation, research, customer feedback, and quality supervision.
- On the back of effective marketing and an innovative line of products, the startup is confident of earning ₹220 crore in revenue in FY20.
- Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founder and Director, Wakefit.co walks us through the startup’s marketing and growth strategy.
That the initiative was a success is perhaps clear from the kind of attention it got, not just in India, but abroad too. And now that the startup has captured people’s attention, it wants to start building conversations around sleep health while educating people about the importance of a good night’s sleep.
The mattress industry, that is poised to cross ₹14,000 crore by 2021, has largely been an unorganized sector, with lots of local players. It is also a segment that hasn’t witnessed a lot of innovations in the recent past. That is where Wakefit wants to make a difference.
We recently caught up with Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founder and Director, Wakefit.co. He spoke to us, not just about the brand’s journey so far but about its upward growth trajectory in the past few years. While the startup ended FY 17 at ₹6.75 crore in revenue, it is confident of making ₹220 crores in revenue in FY20. He also spoke to us about the marketing strategies it will employ to ensure that people take their sleep, or the lack of it more seriously.
Q) Your 'Sleep Internship' campaign has turned out to be quite a clever way of capturing the attention of the media and consumers alike. What was the thought behind the initiative? What kind of reactions are you seeing to it?
We are a sleep solutions company – passionate about sleep and one of our key objectives is to bring sleep into the everyday consciousness of people. The most common casualty of our fast-paced, social media fuelled lives is our sleep. As a company we wanted to remind people about the importance of a good night’s sleep and spark organic conversations about the need to make sleep a health priority without sounding too preachy or boring. At Wakefit.co, we celebrate the love for sleep and wanted to applaud people who are as obsessed about sleeping well as we are.
This spurred the idea of the sleep internship campaign.
The initial reaction towards this internship was complete disbelief and we saw many people disregard the authenticity of the campaign and considered it a hoax. However, over time, as we addressed each query and skepticism, we began receiving queries about the JD, KRA, performance measurement etc., and soon we were inundated with applications for the job. Interestingly, many were sceptical of being able to sleep for about 9 hours every night (a key performance indicator in this internship), which is a sign of the unhealthy lifestyle habits of our generation
Q) What has your marketing strategy been so far? How have you been communicating with your consumers?
Our marketing strategy stems from the business focus on customer-centricity. Our key objective has been to understand customer pain points and gaps in the sleep solutions market and our core strategy has been to take an educative stance of ‘The More You Know; The Better You Sleep’.
This essentially means that a significant focus of our marketing strategy is on educating people about the knowledge and science of sleep and empowering them with information to do their own research and take a decision that is best for them. The ‘Sleep Internship’ campaign is based on this larger strategy and endeavours to make sleep health a topic of conversation and action in households.
Q) You launched Wakefit in 2016. How has the journey been so far, considering you have entered a space that has quite a few well-established players?
We launched in 2016 with a vision to help India sleep better. Unlike other players in the market, our company philosophy is built on the tenets of innovation, research, customer feedback and quality supervision. Beyond everything, we believe that a good sleep is not just a rich person’s dream. Despite the Rs 10,000 crore market which is growing steadily to cross Rs 14,000 crore by 2021, the mattress industry is a segment that largely comprises unorganized players. This is also an industry that has not witnessed much innovation until recent years. Additionally, this industry is also characterised by numerous gaps at various points from pricing, quality adherence to standardisation. This drove us to start a company that endeavors to beat and surpass existing industry norms.
Our direct-to-consumer business model looks at sleep from a holistic standpoint. Wakefit.co was launched with the idea of bringing sleep solutions to people at affordable prices and to raise awareness about the science behind a ‘restful sleep’. In order to do this, we structured our business in a way that it democratized our products and made it affordable for the masses. Our products are designed and priced such that they are accessible to a household with a monthly income of Rs 30,000 and above.
Q) How has the 2019 been for Wakefit, in terms of performance - sales and growth?
We have been fortunate to record encouraging growth numbers with a 3x rise year-on-year in revenues. Having gone from recording Rs 6.75 crores in FY 2017 to posting revenues of Rs 27 crores in FY 2018, we have maintained our growth trajectory to close FY 2019 at Rs 81 crores and are expecting to close FY 2020 at more than Rs 220 crore. This growth has come at a rapid and sustainable pace, with over 5 lakh customers catered to as of 2019. This has been achieved by a strong 600+ member team that has strived to uphold the principles of product excellence and customer-centricity. We service over 19,000 pin codes across India and have carried out business operations across the country, having maintained EBITDA profitability since inception.
Q) In the next year are you going to modify your marketing strategy? Will you be using the traditional mediums to reach out to your consumers?
We don’t really intend to change our larger marketing strategy, which is to use out-of-the-box and creative ways to bring sleep back into public consciousness. We will continue to concentrate on our core value of empowering customers with accurate information and presenting it in an interesting manner. As a fairly young company, we definitely believe in the integrated marketing communication model and will employ the optimal marketing mix to get the best possible results. Digital media will continue to be a key focus, with specific emphasis on content marketing. On-ground activations and traditional media will also be marketing drivers in the year to come.
Q) You call yourself a sleep solutions company. How are you different from other players?
We are a company which is constantly innovating based on consumer data and feedback. In fact, when Wakefit.co was launched, Ankit and I had personally delivered the first 100 mattresses to understand customer mindsets. Our strength and differentiation will continue to be our razor sharp focus on doing what is best for our customers.
Research, both national and global, point to the fact that Indians are sleeping less and sleeping on poor quality products. They’re sleeping less due to increasing levels of stress while sleep-related products available in the market are either of poor quality or are extremely expensive.
This is where we come in, with a motive to provide cutting-edge sleep products, educate people further and become thought leaders in this not-so-organised sector. We are aiming to spark conversations and create awareness around the space, which is likely to benefit the entire ecosystem. Another key focus area for us is to create a pioneering umbrella company where all of a customer’s sleep needs are taken care of, rather than them having to buy different products from different companies.
Q) What kind of growth have you been witnessing since your launch?
Our growth numbers, since inception, have been as below
- Ended FY 2017 at Rs 6.75 crore in revenue
- Ended FY 2018 at Rs 27 crores in revenue
- Ended FY 2019 at Rs 81 crores in revenue
- On track for FY 2020 for Rs 220 crores in revenue
- More than 5 Lakh customers served over 4 years
We are looking at the year 2020 as a year of growth and our focus will continue to remain on educating and spreading awareness around sleep health. We are aiming to create further thought leadership focused conversations through our future campaigns and like our previous campaigns, they too will be fun, witty and engaging.
Sleep is an often misunderstood and a highly debated topic in healthcare, but today there is a gradual shift of perception and this topic is slowly coming under the healthcare spotlight. We intend to leverage this and be at the forefront of this change in conversation. Additionally, we will also look to expand our product portfolio in the next few quarters.
Q) What is your vision for Wakefit.co? Where do you want to take it in the next few years? Any plans of expanding to global markets?
Our vision is to enhance the quality of sleep among Indians and make great quality sleep affordable for households with a monthly income of as low as Rs 30, 000.
At the moment, we are looking to penetrate deeper into the Indian market and make great sleep accessible to as many Indians as possible. We are especially looking at Tier II and Tier III cities as growth drivers, which currently constitutes about 25% of our business.
Q) Are you already making profits? If not, by when do you expect to become profitable?
With our current business model and financial prudence, we have remained profitable since 2016.